A return to the physical store

This article is part of the On Tech newsletter. This is a collection of past column.

Americans shop online like crazy during the pandemic, right? Driven by fear or convenience, more and more of us are comfortable clicking “buy” from our sofas – including buying sofas – and not needing to. turn around.

That’s right. And also… no? Or maybe?

New US government data shows something that surprises me: Physical stores beat online shopping by 2021. No joke.

Americans spent 18% more on food, cars, furniture, electronics and other retail products last year than in 2020, Commerce Department disclosure on Friday. Online retail sales increased 14 percent. In other words, last year, e-commerce lost ground to brick-and-mortar stores.

Admittedly, 2021 is a strange year for shopping. More of us want to see it live than we did during the scary first months of Covid in the US Escalating prices and shortages have changed what people buy and where they shop . And the year doesn’t change the long-term trend that online shopping is taking over more Americans’ wallets.

But the return of physical stores also shows that it can be difficult to predict the rate at which technologies change our behavior and the impacts if and when they do. The future doesn’t have to come in a straight line.

My views are not limited to shopping. One of the big debates for the economy and our lives is to what extent the coronavirus and digital adaptation to it could permanently change all aspects of how we spend our time. , consists of the future of office work, go to the cinema and Habit of doing homework. The honest answer is we don’t really know. A lot has changed, but a lot has not.

Brian Wieser is one of my favorite number-lovers, and he warned me against the fact that physical stores won’t be in 2021. Wieser, global president of business intelligence for the advertising agency GroupM, says it will shrink in two years time to assess the disruption impacts of the pandemic on businesses and us.

Wieser describes what he has seen as a “new plateau” — digital trends that have accelerated the pandemic already and are taking our usage to the next level. A lot of people who study human behavior have also talked about the ways that we’ve come to terms with e-commerce, telework, telemedicine, and online socialization that probably wouldn’t happen to us. pandemic-free 2025 or later.

Wieser’s data collection shows that we’ve increased online shopping in 2020 and 2021 compared to any two-year period since 2006. Amazon and Walmart have also encouraged their investors to consider a two-year period. At Amazon, this may be driven in part by lackluster sales. In the last six months of 2021, Amazon has shown slowest revenue growth in 20 years.

Juozas KaziukėnasThe founder of e-commerce research firm Marketplace Pulse, asked me a question a few months ago that I’ll never forget: Will the coronavirus really force us to shop more online — or just Shop more, period?

It’s a confusing time to appreciate what technology has changed in us. Wieser’s pictorial metaphor of the plateau is very helpful. Maybe we have reached a level of familiarity and use of new technology. That’s not to say we can guess where we’re going from this new species of perch.

We (including myself) are still terrible at predicting the future of technology and how people and society react to it. Sometimes a new app we can’t stop talking about turns out to be Instagram, and sometimes it’s Ello. (You don’t remember Ello? Exactly.)

And human behavior can change slowly, until it sweeps us away. We may feel as though online shopping is ubiquitous, but even now more than 85 cents of every retail dollar in the US is spent in physical stores.

So what is it? Is online shopping the future of how we buy and change things or is it a Small changes have a ripple effect. Yes.

  • The DuckDuckGo web search service received confirmation of victory as an alternative to Google from right-wing social media influencers and conspiracy theoristsMy colleague, Stuart A. Thompson reports.

  • 10 disruptive technologies of 2022: MIT . Technology Review pick a plant to remove carbon dioxide from the air, improved methods for tracking variations of Covid-19 and other improvements.

  • At least the dog likes Amazon’s house robot: Six months ago, Amazon unveiled a $1,000 experimental Alexa on wheels called Astro. This device is only available to a select group so far, and Bloomberg News found an Astro buyer who said that he and his Labrador retriever were amused by the device but were not surprised by it. (Registration may be required).

ONE panda is equal to its doggy friend. I’m imagining a sweet backstory for these two.

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Fry Electronics Team

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